AA earned his Ninja status by operating under the radar, by acquiring players that were undervalued, and by trading for players that some of his competitors did not know were available.
This trade was not under the radar, Dickey was not undervalued and everyone knew he was available.
Once the Marlins trade was done the Jays had substantially re-loaded and were ready to go for it. They had a strong team with a few areas of concern. They needed pitching depth, they could strengthen the DH spot and they could strengthen the catching spot. Among the regulars JP Arencibia was adequate but not a strength. The Jays had options. One of the options not on the table was to sign a significant free agent pitcher. AA said today his budget was at its limit, that is why Buck had to be in the deal to offset Dickey's salary.
They could sign starting depth to either compete with JA Happ or to stash in Buffalo until needed. The Jays just needed backup until mid-season. Reinforcements will arrive then through Kyle Drabek and Drew Hutchison. They could leave d'Arnaud in Buffalo for a few months and he then could help either at catcher or as a DH. The other option was to pursue a trade for a starter. This is the route AA chose. As a side note I should point out that this trade implies that AA was not satisfied to start 2013 with Happ in the rotation. This is the Happ that AA traded several prospects for at the deadline in July. This lack of confidence in Happ makes that July trade non-Ninja too.
So AA wanted another starter via a trade. He set Dickey as his target and he set a value on Dickey. On the Fan this afternoon AA called Dickey a #1 starter and compared Dickey to Halladay and Sabbathia. Once you have convinced yourself that Dickey is a #1 starter, you will be willing to pay a #1 starter price.
On the Fan AA described how he approached the Mets about Dickey back in November but it was only after the December meetings that the Mets made him available. The Jays put Travis d'Arnaud on the table but the Mets didn't bite. In this case you can sit tight and take your chances or you can double down. A Ninja would sit tight and wait for the market to come to him. There were no rumours that any other deal was imminent. The Jays had catching, a premium position, and had the top catching prospect in the minor leagues, a very rare and valuable commodity. There were many stories in the media that the Mets and Jays were best set to do a deal.
The Mets waited and waited and AA blinked. He put Syndergaard into the deal and then Becerra. Who was he bidding against? Was it himself? Does a Ninja bid against himself? Does a Ninja have such a desire for his precious that he blinks? I think AA did.
This trade was all over the media from last week, a non Ninja move. AA overpaid, there is much agreement on this point although many say the overpayment was justified given the Jays position. Is it Ninja to overpay to get to the playoffs or does a Ninja play for the long haul?
To be clear I am not saying that AA's deal is indefensible. It can be considered a good deal under certain conditions, but those conditions are not Ninja conditions. I say that this deal has cost AA his Ninja status.
Let me finish by quoting from Buster Olney's column today:
"I can't believe [Anthopoulos is] thinking about doing this," one AL official said Saturday, before the Jays and Mets finished the structure of the deal. "He's out of his mind," said another.
Does that sound like a Ninja to you?
p.s. The system ate the first, more eloquent and less rushed version of this. I hope my message carries through this version.